The Pirates of Somalia – Tom Doyle

“The Pirates of Somalia” is a short story from Tom Doyle’s book “Killing Christians.” It is based on truth and shares the story of Azzam, a Muslim turned Christian convert. Azzam is the son of a Somali pirate-warlord and they live in the heart of Muslim Somalia. This is a place where the law is written by the pirates and Christianity is punishable by death. Azzam begins having visions of a man named Jesus and seeks guidance from the town’s spiritual leader. He is ridiculed and told that the visions he sees are from the devil. During one of his visions he asks his mother if she sees the cross placed on his bed, but she has no idea what he’s talking about. Azzam’s brother watches the exchange and runs off to tell their father. “Leave, son, and don’t come back,” Azzam’s mother sends him away for if his father found him he would be beaten of even killed.

This short story really jerked my emotions, especially when Azzam receives an unexpected package from his father. “Nothing he had imagined prepared Azzam for the contents,” nothing had prepared me either. The package contained the cut up remains of Azzam’s mother. This made me realize what a bubble we live in, in the western world, as my brain cannot even comprehend how cruel a person would have to be to do this too their son. I guess this is because of the background i have been brought up in. I live in a country/ culture where it is completely unacceptable, and unlawful for murder. Azzam, however, has grown up in a cruel place with cruel people and to prosper one must do cruel things. “Have you finally killed someone?” This is a question asked to Azzam by his mother when she smells blood in his room. This shows how socially acceptable murder is in their culture. Azzam’s father would have grown up in the same conditions and this was an all-natural response from him to send a message to his ‘spiritually deviant’ son. This culture seems so beyond belief to me because the possibilities of my mother being murdered are so slim, i needn’t even think about it.

But, the most heart wrenching thing comes a few pages down. This is when Azzam confronts Yasin and Mahdi, his mother’s killers, when he spots them walking through his village one day. They are expecting Azzam to attack them as with the retaliation culture of Somalia, but are completely taken aback when he tells them “I’ve come to forgive you.” He forgives his mother’s murderers! That’s insane! Yasin and Mahdi have grown up in the same culture as Azzam, therefore they know that if they did not follow orders they would probably be killed as well. “We didn’t want to do it, but your father ordered us.” Azzam realises that as much as they didn’t want to do it they didn’t have a choice, so he chooses to forgive them. Yasin and Mahdi are so taken aback by this act of love that they become Christians themselves.  They have never known love as vast as this in their live’s, that they know this must be a God worth believing in. I have been brought up as a Christian and it is so encouraging to see God using discrepancies to bring more people to Christ. I recently went to an Easter camp in Christchurch and the theme of the camp was that God brings good out of bad. They had speakers which shared their stories of how they were abused as children and how negatively that effected their lives. Once they were saved, however, God flipped their lives around and they now guide and help people under the same circumstances. It is so cool hearing these stories as you know that whatever trials you are facing in your life God is going to bring something good from it, ‘Beauty from the Ashes.’ This is especially exciting for heavily cruel parts of the world such as Somalia, where Christianity is banned, as they so badly need God’s love and goodness.

Azzam’s story reminds me of my auntie who lives in India. She works with a freedom business called ‘Freeset.’ Freeset frees women from the Indian sex trade, and gives them real jobs within the business. Jobs include sowing tote bags, scarves and t-shirts. The cruelness in India is women are being lured away from their villages and sold into slavery in the sex trade. What the Freeset workers do is go out to the streets of the red light districts to show love and make friends with the enslaved women. They tell the women about the joy of working for Freeset and most of them take the opportunity to leave their old lives behind. This reminds me of Azzam’s story as Freeset, just like Azzam, are showing love to people who have never been given any. Freeset is founded by Christians and God works through the employees to bring people people to better lives. This is as God worked through Azzam to show Muslims a better way to live through a loving God.

Wilfred Owen – Writing

“Men marched asleep” – From dulce et decorum est and “Slowly our ghosts drag home” – From Exposure. Hyperbole and metaphor to show how extremely exhausted the men are. Wilfreds poems are a sort of antiwar, so the message conveyed is that men cannot function porperly when they are ghosts of themselves they need

p2- terrible conditions, exposure is purely based around the terrible weather conditions which the soldiers faced. Saying if the war, bullets, didnt kill them than the conditions would. “Our brains ache, in the merciless iced east winds that knive us…” personification.

do we say i or the reader

Wilfred Owen uses language features, in his poems “Dulce et Decorum Est” and “Exposure,” to protest against the conditions which soldiers faced in war. “We cursed through the sludge,” Owen uses an unusual verb ‘cursed’ to show how the soldiers thoughts on the mud. Sludge was the bane of many problems that soldiers faced. It would get into their sleeping bags, the boots and socks leading to trench foot. This quote gives the reader an image of soldiers struggling to walk through thick mud, swearing understandably.

p3- “What passing-bells for these who die as cattle? Only the stuttering rifles rapid rattle” Passing bells reference the bells rung to signal a death or funeral. The soldiers don’t get a bell, only the rifles being fired upon them. Message war should not be glorified

Wilfred Owen in his poems “Anthem for Doomed Youth” and “Dulce et Decorum Est” uses language features to display the message that war should not be glorified. “What passing-bells for these who die as cattle? Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle.” Wilfred uses two language features in this quote from “Anthem for Doomed Youth.” He asks a rhetorical question “What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?” Passing-bells reference the bells which are rung outside a church when there has been a death or funeral. Wilfred is wondering where are these bells? The soldiers do not get such a privilege as to have their deaths marked by bells. The second language feature is alliteration of “the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle.” Wilfred answers his own question saying no they don’t get passing-bells, only the rattle of rifles to mark their death. This adds to the idea of soldiers only being seen as cattle off to the slaughter, they aren’t even acknowledged enough for the churches to ring their bells. “The old lie: Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.” In English this says, “the old Lie: It is sweet and fitting to die for ones country.” Wilfred is using oxymoron  that if you had experienced the horrors of war which these soldiers have faced, you would not believe this to be true. This is why he calls it ‘the old lie,’ as he has seen people dying in horrific ways, he knows there is no honour in dying this way.

 

 

Wilfred Owen uses language features, in his poems “Dulce et Decorum Est” and “Exposure,” to protest against the conditions which soldiers faced in war. “We cursed through the sludge,” gives the reader an image of soldiers struggling to walk through thick mud, swearing consistently. Owen uses an unusual verb ‘cursed’ to show how the soldiers despise the war conditions. Sludge was the bane of many problems that soldiers faced; mud would get into their sleeping bags, boots and socks leading to trench foot and hypothermia. This makes it understandable for soldiers to be cursing the sludge after months of enduring its labours. “Our brains ache, in the merciless iced east winds that knive us.” Wilfred personifies the wind in saying that it was so cold it was as if it was stabbing the soldiers with knives. This makes it seem as if the wind is an enemy of it’s own,  Even when the soldiers weren’t being fired upon, they were still ‘at the mercy’ of the weather. “The poignant misery of dawn begins to grow…” Wilfred uses emotive language to provoke feelings of misery inside the reader. This tells the reader that the weather conditions were bad for the soldiers’ mental health. The dreary weather has taken such a toll on the soldiers, that even dawn doesn’t bring them happiness. Wilfred actually believes that bullets of war are “Less deadly than the air that shudders black with snow.”

 

In the poems “Dulce et Decorum Est” and “Exposure” Wilfred Owen uses language features to convey the idea of the exhaustion of war. The soldiers faced some horrific things at war that put immense stress on the body. “Men marched asleep,” this is a metaphor from “Dulce et Decorum Est,” Owen is saying that the men were so exhausted from war that they were walking, talking, killing as if in their sleep. The soldiers being in this state would not feel as if their actions were their own; this may have made them kill without instinct or made them scared for their lives as their functions wouldn’t work properly. Owen shares that they didn’t feel like they were part of their own body’s in exposure, “Slowly our ghosts drag home.” This use of hyperbole exaggerates how tired they were, they were hollow not even inside themselves. It gives the reader an image of the soldiers’ ghosts slowly dragging their bodies behind them, as they have collapsed. This shows the immense spirit in which these soldiers had, despite their bodies being utterly broken. The message Wilfred Owen wanted to portray through these exhausted images is that the soldiers were used to the point of which they “die as cattle” heading to the slaughter house. They were not given enough rest, just used for one purpose; to be the meat of the war. They could be related to slaves, bound to their country by honour, but not given the glory promised by propaganda. Instead, being worked till death with no glory attached deal.

 

Exposure – Wilfred Owen

Language Features

“Our brains ache, in the merciless iced east winds that knife us”
– This is an example of personification, the east winds are ‘knifing’ the author. In other words they are stabbing the author with cold. This language feature is used instead of just saying that the wind is ‘cold’ as it adds more interest. Its saying that the wind is so icy it’s piercing through them.

“Worried by silence, sentries whisper, curious, nervous, But nothing happens.”
– The author uses listing in this way to slow the piece down. It gives time to set the scene, they’re scared its freezing and nothing is happening to interest them. Also the emotive language used gives insight into what the soldiers are thinking. They have confused feelings about the silence, wondering why nothing is happening; these feelings set the scene of what the soldiers feel.

“But nothing happens.”
– This phrase is repeated at the end of multiple stanzas throughout the piece. This is partly an oxymoron as it is used at the end of a verse which clearly has gunfire at the start. “Sudden successive flights of bullets streak the silence.” Yet it still says that nothing had happened. But the phrase “But nothing happens” is for the most part used to add to the feeling of slowness which the poem depicts. It’s repetition is too emphasize the, cold slow deaths/pace of the soldiers/poem. This phrase is also used at the end which is a nice touch to finish of the poem, saying that all that has happened during the poem, does not matter; it says that nothing of importance has happened in the whole poem.

“glimpsing the sunk fires, glozed With crusted dark-red jewels.”
– The crusted jewels are a metaphor for the embers left after a fire.
I think the author compares them to jewels as the soldiers would love to go over to the warmth of the fires. So the fires are precious or treasured to them.

-Wilfred Owen personifies dawn

How is the idea of exposure (being dangerously exposed to the natural elements/weather) represented in the poem?

Right from the start line “Our brains ache in the merciless iced east winds that knive us” They are exposed to this wind so cold it feels like knives stabbing them and makes their brains ache. The wind is presented as a merciless enemy stabbing them with knives of ice. The word merciless conveys the wind as a real danger as it is never relenting.

“We only know war lasts, rain soaks, and clouds sag stormy.” This quote adds to the misery of the war and the exposure they are facing. They are being exposed to rain enough to soak them through. Rain, and dark grey skies caused by rain, makes the scene dreary and miserable. The weather is an enemy to the soldiers mentally in this case. The misery of the weather would challenge their mental state making it difficult for them to get moving and keep fighting.

“Sudden successive flights of bullets streak the silence. Less deadly then the air that shudders black with snow.” This quote is presents the weather as a very deadly enemy. It presents the weather as more deadly than even the war itself, with the bullets and bombs and death.

“We cringe in holes.” This is quite a powerful short sentence. It tells the reader how the weather was so harsh and merciless has defeated the ‘we.’ Some of them have given up, cringing to death in holes. Further down the stanza it says “-Is it that we are dying.” This means that they are so miserable and brain numbed by the weather that they don’t even realize they are dying anymore. “Slowly our ghosts drag home” They no longer feel like humans, they are hollow, empty beings. It gave me an image of ghosts slowly dragging their former body’s by ropes.

“Tonight, this frost will fasten on this mud and us, Shriveling many hands.” Whence the sun goes down, the icy enemy returns. It

Anthem for Doomed Youth – Wilfred Owen

What can we determine/understand about the writer of this text?

“What passing-bells for these who die as cattle.” This quote tells the reader how much Wilfred Owen dislikes war. The passing-bells reference the bells rung at churches to signify a death or multiple deaths. These who die as cattle shows that he feels the soldiers who leave to go to war are like cattle going to the slaughter house.

What words have been chosen to influence the text?

Wilfred uses a lot of words which reference death or funerals. “Passing bells” this references the bell rung to signify someone’s death to the world. “Bugles” trumpet like instrument which is played at military funerals. I think he used these words to ward of or scare the youth, who would be doomed to the fate of death, if the joined the war.

What language features have been chosen to influence the text?

Wilfred Owen uses alliteration to describe guns in war. “Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle” This alliteration tells the reader that guns were constant during the war, never ceasing. “Hasty orisons,” orison means prayer and prayers are supposed to be quiet reflections. Making them hasty prayers gives a sense of frantic cries to God. Oxymoron’s are used to create a sense of “something ain’t right here.”

Language Techniques Task

Simile
“Bent double, like old beggars” This simile puts an image of broken human beings in our mind and gives us sympathy towards them and their circumstances. We have sympathy as we would never like to be placed in the situations which these soldiers faced.

Command
“Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!” This command tells us there is danger coming. It wants us to feel the danger and get us more involved in the text.

Hyperbole
“Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud.” This over exaggeration is used by the writer to make sure the ready knows just how grim it was.

Dulce et Decorum Est – Wilfred Owen Critical Questions

Images

“Bent double, like old beggars…”
This quote gives me the image of broken men . Bent double makes me think are fatigued, in pain, maybe injured; the war is not giving them a good time. Old beggars gives me the image of men who have movement inabilities cant walk properly as if they are old.  Also the image of ripped and ragged clothes. There could also be literal begging, begging for the war to end so they can go home.

“Knock-Kneed…”
This gives me an image of men stumbling through difficult terrain, there knees not working properly. Stumbling along almost falling to the ground.

“Men marched asleep…”
This tells me how severely tired they all are. They are barely staying awake, barely keeping on going.

“But someone still was yelling out… and flound’ring like a man in fire”
Someone missed the chance to get their gas helmet on. He freaks out and starts yelling for help but there cant be any help as he has already been affected. He goes insane with pain and starts spazing out.
“As under a green sea, I saw him drowning”
Not only do they have the pain of getting shot at, gassed, fatigued, broken bodies, ripped clothes; but they have to watch there own friends and comrades die on a daily basis. I think that would out-way all the personal pain of war.

Language

“An ecstasy of fumbling”
The word ecstasy makes it seem chaotic, everyone is hyper and going as fast as possible to put on their gas masks.

“”As under a green sea”
There not a small amount of gas but his friend is drowning under a whole sea of the stuff

“Obscene as cancer”
The man was not foul but the foulest of foul. He was hideous.

“Cursed through the sludge”
They weren’t walking through the sludge all downcast, but were cursing as they went.

“Dulce et decorum est” – Wilfred Owen

Who was Wilfred Owen?
He was a soldier in the first world war. He also wrote some of the best poetry of world war 1. He died one week before armistice in November 1918. He died in action at age 25. He was born on 18 March 1893. Mentor siegfried sassoom. He became a teaching assistant so his writing was top notch.

Why Did he Write the Poem?
He wrote the poem to shock civilians at home who believed the war was noble and glorious. He wrote the poem for his mother, telling them not to tell anyone that war is glorious. Written to emphasize how the war was carrying on beyond reason.

When and Where Was the Poem Written?
“The earliest surviving draft is dated 8th October 1917” Don’t know where. Wrote it a day after seeing his friends being killed by the gas. Wrote most of the poetry in hospital suffering from shell shock.

What does this poem mean to readers today?
Shows the horrors war entailed.

How is this poem interpreted?
It was a form of catharsis for him, for post traumatic stress of war.
“Normal isnt a word that has any meaning for soldiers anymore.” – Soldiers can’t forget what they have been through, there lives will never be the same.

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/wilfred-owen
http://www.wilfredowen.org.uk/poetry/dulce-et-decorum-est

Suddenly, a Knock on the Door – Etgar Keret Entry 6

‘Suddenly, a Knock on the Door’ is a short story written by Etgar Keret. It is set in the living room of a writers house, in a middle eastern country. The story begins with a knock on the door of the writers house. A Swedish man comes in demanding the writer tells him a story. The writer only agrees as the man has a pistol. The writer tries to reason with the Swede that a story will not come to mind if there is a gun pointed at him. The writer begins to tell a story about a man being held hostage and forced to tell a story, when suddenly there is a knock at the door. Its a pollster who barges in with a gun also looking for a story. The writer starts his story again but this time with two kidnappers, but there is another knock on the door. This time it is a pizza man with a delivery, but the writer didn’t order pizza? The delivery man turns out to have also come for a story, but doesn’t have a gun only a cleaver, “but I’ll cut him into julienne strips unless he coughs up a good one, on the double.” The writer settles down to retell the story but the kidnappers won’t let him talk about what is currently happening in the room. He tells it anyway, getting a bit ocd having to get to the part about a knock on the door then the story ends.

The story talks about how in the middle east you have to take things by force, you can’t ask politely. “In this country,’ he explains, ‘if you want something, you have to use force.” This relates to the real world, as in a lot of third world/ ‘undeveloped’ nations the law is quite out of balance. This makes people feel as if they have to use force to get things. This is because everyone has become defensive of sharing things, so won’t freely give. So asking politely for something will not likely get it for you.

A personal connection I had with the text was with the writer. “It’s hard to think up a story with the barrel of a loaded pistol pointed at your head.” The writer struggle to think of things on the spot, or under pressure. I struggle with this a maybe a few times daily. When I’m talking about something and someone asks “Give me an example of when you’ve done this, or this has happened” my brain just freezes up. I can’t think of things easily when I am put on the spot, but I would think of a whole bunch of things straight afterwards. Another example of when I can’t think of things is during English exams or anything with a time limit. My brain takes ages to think of things as it go through all the best possible ways of how I could write something, and is constantly trying to improve it as I write it.

Transcendence – Wally Pfister Entry 5

“Transcendence is a film directed by Wally Pfister starring Johnny Depp (Dr. Will Caster), Rebecca Hall (Evelyn Caster) and Paul Bettany (Max Waters). The film is set at a modern time with everyone relying on technology in their daily lives. The opening scene of the film shows a world where some event has wiped out all electricity. It then rewinds to Dr. Will Caster being shot by a terrorist group called R.I.F.T (Revolutionary Independence From Technology) because of his work on artificial intelligence (A.I). He survives the bullet but it was poisoned so he only has a few months to live. Will’s wife Evelyn hears of a scientist who, instead of creating a self-aware A.I, uploaded an existing conscious. He successfully uploaded a monkeys brain into the computer, so Evelyn wonders if she can upload Will to save him. Max helps her but as they uploaded Will into the drives of an A.I called PINN Max is skeptical that it is actually Will. ‘Will’ creates an empire of science and the films conclusion makes us wonder whether it was actually Will or just a mad computer.

A connection this film had to the real was the modern day technological advancements. In the real world at the moment there are so many people researching things like artificial intelligence and cancer cures. In the film one leads to the other as the A.I creates nano technology. The nano technology created by Will, after he was uploaded, was able to create new cells which allowed healing of tissue. This meant that any sickness was healed or cured. ” These people are suffering, Evelyn. They have no hope and I’m able to fix them.” There are so many people around the world who are researching for these advancements. They would help so many people who would benefit from these being a reality.

A personal connection I had with this film was with the fears of R.I.F.T. R.I.F.T believe that artificial intelligence would ruin the world if it were allowed online. “We were too late, it’s out there now.” R.I.F.T sent a team to shut down the A.I before it went online but were too late, Evelyn had already let it online. R.I.F.T’s concerns are that if this A.I is let online it can access any file from any database connected to the internet and would never be able to be shutdown. I share these concerns that A.I, if they are not contained, will be dangerous. If the A.I is self aware then whats to stop it doing it’s own thing and launching nuclear bombs. I know it’s far fetched and a lot of research off but there are still concerns. Transcendence reminded me of a film called ‘I Robot’ directed by Alex Proyas. This film about an Artificial Intelligence which decides the human race needs to be destroyed because they all they do is kill each other. Transcendence reminded me of this film because of R.I.F.T’s concerns. The A.I in I Robot is exactly the type of A.I R.I.F.T were concerned that would happen in Transcendence. It is also the type of A.I I am concerned someone could create in the future. Since our current generations are growing in a technological world most of future jobs will be in the computer sciences industry. Which means there will be plenty of people working on these A.I’s in the future to come.

Transcendence

“Transcendence” is a film directed by Wally Pfister, starring Johnny Depp (Will Caster), Rebecca Hall (Evelyn Caster) and Paul Bettany (Max Waters). The film starts at a point of society where some devastating event has wiped out all electricity. It then rewinds a few years to a conference at which Dr. Will Caster is presenting to his sponsors about his work on artificial intelligence. He is on the brink of discovering how to map the human brain to create a self aware A.I. On the same day Will is shot my a terrorist group called R.I.F.T (Revolutionary Independence From Technology) and A.I. labs are attacked all over the country. Will survives but the bullet was laced with poison so he only has 3 months to live. Evelyn finds the research of a man which successfully uploaded a monkey’s brain into a computer and, as a chance to save her husband, recruits life long friend Max to help her upload Wills brain. Will dies but his brain was successfully uploaded or so Evelyn thinks. She is instantly a believer that it worked but Max is skeptical about how much of Will Caster actually survived. This is because they uploaded him into the drives which housed PINN (Physically Independent Neural Network) Max is not sure if what they are seeing is PINN or Will. They have an argument and Evelyn sends Max out. Max is confronted and kidnapped by R.I.F.T, who then send a team to capture Evelyn and shut down this A.I before it is loaded onto the internet. R.I.F.T is too late and Evelyn uploads ‘Will’ onto the internet. Will instantly starts using the stock market to pile money into him and Evelyn’s bank account. They eventually buy a small town in the middle of nowhere and build a gigantic laboratory where A.I will makes massive advancements in nano technology and other sciences. Max is convinced by R.I.F.T that the A.I needs to be shut down and enlists help from his contacts in the FBI. Deformed or Disabled people from all around come for Will to heal them with his nano tech. Not only does he heal them though he also enhances their bodies and connects them to him, so he can control them like a hive mind. Max and his team capture one of these people and use their blood to create a virus that will shut down the A.I but will also shut down the whole internet in the process. The contact Evelyn who is getting more weary that this mind is not actually Will and she says she will plant the virus as she created the problem. Will in the mean time has figured out how to grow tissue and has created himself as a human again. Evelyn is dying as the virus is in her veins she would implant it by getting Will to upload her to him. At this time the army are bombing all of Will’s solar panels so he doesn’t have enough power